September 2016

In Monthly Book Selection on July 11, 2016 at 12:41 pm


Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics, by Richard H. Thaler

From Amazon.ca:

Shortlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.

Get ready to change the way you think about economics.

Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans—predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth—and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.

Laced with antic stories of Thaler’s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.


October 2016

In Monthly Book Selection on July 11, 2016 at 12:37 pm

I'm Right

I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up, by James Hoggan

From Amazon.ca

The most pressing environmental problem we face today is not climate change. It is pollution in the public square, where a smog of adversarial rhetoric, propaganda and polarization stifles discussion and debate, creating resistance to change and thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems.

In I’m Right and You’re an Idiot, author and David Suzuki Foundation chair James Hoggan grapples with this critical issue, conducting interviews with outstanding thinkers from the Himalaya to the House of Lords. Drawing on the wisdom of such notables as Thich Nhat Hanh, Noam Chomsky, and the Dalai Lama, his comprehensive analysis explores:

  • How trust is undermined and misinformation thrives in today’s public dialogue
  • Why facts alone fail — the manipulation of language and the silencing of dissent
  • The importance of reframing our arguments with empathy and values to create compelling narratives and spur action.

Our species’ greatest survival strategy has always been foresight and the ability to leverage our intelligence to overcome adversity. For too long now this capacity has been threatened by the sorry state of our public discourse. Focusing on proven techniques to foster more powerful and effective communication, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot will appeal to readers looking for both deep insights and practical advice.

November 2016

In Monthly Book Selection on July 11, 2016 at 12:33 pm


The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, by Anu Partanen

From the publisher:

Impassioned and timely, this big think book by a Finnish journalist who is now a U.S. citizen asks Americans to consider the Nordic way of life as a means of nurturing a happier, saner, and fairer society.

AT a May 2012 conference on social mobility, where experts discussed whether people worldwide were attaining a better life than their parents’, Ed Miliband, the leader of the British Labour Party, made a surprising quip: “If you want the American dream, go to Finland.” For decades, the country best known for opportunity had been the United States. No longer, said Miliband.

Anu Partanen, however, had recently left Finland and moved to America for the love of her life, a man who would ultimately become her husband. Their relationship flourished, but she found that navigating the basics of everyday life—from health insurance and taxes to education and child care—was much more complicated and stressful than anything she had encountered in her homeland. At first she attributed her crippling anxiety to the difficulty of adapting to a freewheeling new culture. But as she got to know Americans better, she discovered that they shared her deep apprehensions. To understand why life in Finland is so drastically different from the way things are in the United States, Partanen began to look closely at both countries.

In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares living in the United States with life in the Nordic region, focusing on four key relationships—parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens. She debunks criticism that Nordic countries are socialist “nanny states,” revealing instead that it is we Americans who are far more enmeshed in unhealthy dependencies than we realize. Step-by-step, Partanen explains that the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and equality than we do.

Partanen wants to open Americans’ eyes to how much better things can be—to show her beloved new country what it can learn from her homeland to reinvigorate and fulfill the promise of the American dream. Offering insights, advice, and solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild our society, rekindle our optimism, and restore independence to our relationships and lives.